September 2013

ERLC challenges abortion clinic buffer zones

September 25 2013 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has called on the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly outside abortion clinics.

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the ERLC urges the justices to invalidate a Massachusetts buffer zone law and to reverse its own previous opinion upholding a similar law in Colorado.

Oral arguments in the case, McCullen v. Coakley, are expected in early 2014. They are not scheduled for this fall’s portion of the next court term, which opens in October.

The ERLC joined nine other organizations in signing onto the brief filed Sept. 16 by the Christian Legal Society (CLS).

In the case, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston upheld in January a 2007 Massachusetts law that establishes a 35-foot zone around the entrances and driveways of abortion clinics. The measure bars pro-life sidewalk counselors from entering that zone to talk to women considering an abortion or scheduled for one unless those women provide consent.

The law protects the rights of patients while also ensuring pro-lifers could exercise their First Amendment rights, the appeals court said in its opinion. Pro-lifers contend, however, the scope of the buffer zone makes it almost impossible to speak to women going to the clinic.

The ERLC-endorsed brief argues that the law violates a sidewalk’s legal status as a public forum open to peaceful assembly and speech. It also contends such a law has far-reaching implications.

“If Massachusetts can close off the sidewalks surrounding reproductive health facilities to peaceful expressive activity, then the government can prohibit expression in a wide range of circumstances,” according to the brief.

A state, the brief says, “might seek to undermine union strikes by closing off public sidewalks surrounding factories to peaceful expressive activity. Or the state might seek to stifle criticism of a controversial legislative policy by excluding peaceful expressive activity from the public sidewalks near the state capitol.”

Like Massachusetts has done with the buffer zone law, a state “could offer high-minded justifications” for such a restriction, but it would ultimately “undermine the public forum,” the brief says.

The ERLC-backed brief appeals to the Supreme Court to reverse itself on a 2000 opinion regarding a Colorado law that also placed limitations on pro-lifers. The justices voted 6-3 in the Hill v. Colorado decision to uphold that measure, which established a 100-foot zone around abortion clinic entrances. Inside that zone, a pro-lifer needs permission in order to get within eight feet of a person to counsel or distribute a handout.

That opinion, like the Massachusetts law, “is at odds with the overwhelming thrust of this Court’s free speech jurisprudence, which protects the ability of speakers to communicate to unwilling listeners,” the brief says.

“The peaceful and non-confrontational expression” by the pro-lifers challenging the Massachusetts law fits easily within the Supreme Court’s free speech philosophy, “which permits even hurtful speech, expression, and protest,” according to the brief.

The high court’s opinion on the Massachusetts law could affect ordinances in several major U.S. cities that have enacted similar buffer zone laws.

Joining the ERLC on the CLS brief were the National Association of Evangelicals, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, American Bible Society, Christian Medical Association, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance and International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

The ERLC signed on to another friend-of-the-court brief filed Sept. 16 by CLS, this time with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. In Domino’s v. Sebelius, the brief supports the religious freedom of a business owner to refuse to abide by the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate under the 2010 health care law. That rule requires employers to pay for coverage of contraceptives, including ones that can cause abortions.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – With reporting by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach.)
9/25/2013 4:23:37 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Pakistan Christians don black bands for mourning, solidarity

September 25 2013 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – It was easy to spot a Christian in Pakistan on Monday (Sept. 23). Normally they tend to keep a low profile for fear of persecution. But this day, they wore black bands around their arms as a sign of mourning and solidarity following Sunday’s church bombing.

The Christian community declared three days of mourning after what is regarded as the deadliest attack on a minority religion in Pakistan to date, with 81 people killed and more than 130 injured.

The attack occurred at the historic All Saints Church in the northwestern city of Peshawar. As the Anglican congregation was leaving worship and gathering on the front lawn for a fellowship meal of rice, a pair of suicide bombers detonated explosives at the door of the church. More than half of the casualties and injured were women and children.

Christian worker Louis Claman* described Monday as a “very, very dark day” as the shock from Sunday’s tragedy finally wore off. Families began burying their dead. Mourners cried with grief in massive numbers. Some held vigil outside the hospital for those still listed in critical condition from the blasts. Thousands of others took to the streets in protest, carrying wooden crosses, chanting and burning tires.

A prayer guide for Pakistan has been created by the International Mission Board. Visit here.

“This is not the first attack on a church, or on other places of worship, but it is the highest casualty count to date,” Claman said. “The Christian response has been one of frustration and [it] adds to the sense that this is not a country where Christians or other minorities can survive.”

Christians make up less than 3 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people, with less than 1 percent considered evangelical. The Asian nation is listed 14th on the World Watch List for persecuted countries.

The small and largely impoverished Christian community suffers discrimination in the overwhelmingly Muslim-majority nation but bombings against them are extremely rare. Christians worry more about being accused of blasphemy – a derogatory (and illegal) comment about Muhammad – than explosions that throw people to the floor. Suicide bombers don’t normally come to church.

Sunday’s blasts join the list of roughly 85 bomb and suicide attacks that have occurred throughout Pakistan this year, according to the Pakistani Interior Ministry. Claman said many Muslim clerics and government officials have condemned this act of terrorism as inhumane and against any religion.

Witnesses described a scene of dust, debris and devastation. Bloodstained walls were gouged with ball bearings used in the explosives. Pages of Bibles were scattered amid shattered benches.

As images from Sunday replayed on television, angry Pakistani Christians took to the streets to demonstrate in cities throughout the country. In a few places the protests turned violent, with police shooting overhead. But demonstrators continued protesting and chanting the same question minorities asked after Joseph Colony, a Christian colony in Lahore, was attacked and burned down March 10: “Who will protect us?”

Christian workers Clamans and Darren Cantwell* asked Christians worldwide to join in standing beside Pakistani Christians.

“We stand beside our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, mourning with them during this attack,” Cantwell said, “and asking with them for God’s comfort in these days. Our hearts break to see the suffering of God’s people.”

Prayer is requested specifically for:
  • the Father to inspire a wave of prayer among the Christians and a response of forgiveness.
  • Christians’ forgiveness to lead to an explanation of Christ’s sacrifice and the power of the Holy Spirit to evoke a response of steadfast love for one another and lost neighbors.
  • God to melt the hearts of those hostile to Him so they worship the King of Kings.
*Names changed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Rain writes for the International Mission Board from Southeast Asia. A prayer guide for Pakistan can be downloaded here.)
9/25/2013 4:05:34 PM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Blanton, Bordeaux discuss BSC presidential run

September 24 2013 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

For the first time since 2005, two candidates will seek the office of president for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
The two candidates – Bobby Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, and C.J. Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, – sat down with Biblical Recorder Editor K. Allan Blume earlier this month to discuss a variety of topics that included why each decided to run for president, their qualifications for office and what they hope to accomplish if elected.
Earlier this year it appeared that only one candidate was going to run for the position. Bordeaux, who has served the last four years as second and first vice president, contacted Blanton and let him know that he had decided not to run.
In the May 25 issue of the Biblical Recorder, Blanton announced his intentions to accept a nomination for president. In late July, Bordeaux contacted Blanton and the Recorder to announce he had reconsidered his decision and would run after all.
“The more I prayed about it, the more the Lord began to change my heart and my mind,” said Bordeaux, during the hour-long interview recorded at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro on Sept. 10.
“I didn’t feel like I sought the office. In many ways I felt like the office sought me.”
“Yes, I did make the decision not to run, but then with encouragement from my family, from my church and many people across the state, I did change that position. I take full responsibility for that.”

Allan Blume, center, editor of the Biblical Recorder, asks questions of Bobby Blanton, left, and C.J. Bordeaux, candidates for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) president. Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, and Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, will be nominated at the BSC annual meeting Nov. 11-12. The Recorder met with the candidates Sept. 10 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro to ask them questions. See video or play below.

In the last election between two candidates nearly 8 years ago, Stan Welch, who was pastor of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis at the time, defeated Blythe Taylor, the former associate minister of St. Johns Baptist Church in Charlotte.
Welch is now pastor of West Asheville Baptist Church in Asheville.
Both Bordeaux and Blanton voiced respect for the other and full support if either candidate wins. They also explained that their decisions to run did not have anything to do with any theological disagreement.
“I think I can say this, and he would agree … there’s not a half-a-teaspoon ounce of difference in our [theological] beliefs and convictions,” Bordeaux said. “I’m only seeking the office to continue serving my state, serving all of North Carolina Baptists and just being a part of what God is going to do and continue to do here in our great Tar Heel state.”
Blume asked both candidates to share why they felt uniquely qualified for the position.
“For whatever reason the Lord has put me in places of leadership all throughout my life,” said Blanton, who gave a brief summary of leadership opportunities that included everything from being the captain of his high school football and basketball teams to his years of service as a pastor, president of the BSC’s Board of Directors and serving on various committees of leadership for the convention.
“One of the greatest challenges that I’ve had in leadership is being the president of our Board of Directors,” Blanton said. “It was through that experience that [I] really gained a lot of valuable insights for me, relating to leadership.”
Blanton later added that though he has not served in a vice president officer role for the BSC, he believes anyone with North Carolina Baptist leadership experience should have the same opportunity to win the presidential position as someone who has served as first and second vice president.
“One of the trends I think we have slowly begin to creep toward in our convention is this idea of automatic succession,” Blanton said. “I’m certainly not an opponent of succession.
“Succession has proven to be very helpful for us, and we’ve had some great leaders that have been generated … from that,” added Blanton, who nominated Bordeaux the last two years for the office of first vice president.
Blanton explained that succession becomes a problem, however, when it is “automatic succession.” He contended there are many leaders who would make great presidents but don’t have years to invest to “get in line in the back of the train and ride that train for six years.”
“I just think it puts us in a place of disadvantage,” Blanton said. “I would say the office of president is much too important for it ever to be assumed.
“I have no disappointment with C.J. I just think ... it’s a healthier trend for our convention that these kinds of positions, particularly that of the president, would be such that we would have a choice.”
Earlier during the interview Bordeaux brought up the topic by saying, “I do not in any way see moving into the office of the presidency as an automatic right or an automatic succession. … I had initially decided not to seek this office but I love our convention.”
Bordeaux later added, “I think what Bobby and I are doing is great for the convention. I don’t have any issues with it whatsoever, and again, he and I are going to be friends win or lose. But I just haven’t heard a lot of interest in the last several years about convention leadership.”
Blume asked Bordeaux why he feels qualified to serve as president. Bordeaux responded, “I don’t.” 
“To be truthful, I don’t feel qualified,” he said. “I don’t know of any man or any woman that could actually say they are because it is such an incredible responsibility.”
“I have such great respect for the men that have gone before us over these many past years, but I really believe this is one of those positions that it cannot be done by a person,” he said. “It has to be done with the help of the Lord.”
During the discussion, Blanton and Bordeaux shared their thoughts on the BSC’s new strategy and restructuring that focuses on making disciples, church planting and reaching more lost areas of the state.
The new strategy and staff structure was approved by the BSC’s Executive Committee in the spring and will officially launch in January.
“I’m very excited about the new strategy,” said Blanton, who presided as president of the Board of Directors during the initial study to help formulate a new vision and plan for the BSC. “It’s a structure that I think is bold. I think it is exciting. … If North Carolina Baptists will embrace it and will rally around it, I think it will go a long way to help to impact the lostness that is already a part of North Carolina.”
Bordeaux also expressed support for the convention’s new strategy and called it a “powerful tool and great opportunity for North Carolina Baptists.”
“We’ve already seen some agreement and we’ve seen disagreement,” he said. “But I really do believe that the strategy that Dr. Hollifield has placed before us for the North Carolina Baptist State Convention and for North Carolina Baptists is really a stroke of genius.”
“We’ve done things one way, a certain way, for a long time. … This is breaking the mold, and I really see this model is going to help … and keep us on the cutting edge of the forefront of Kingdom ministry work for many years to come.”
Each candidate shared what he would like to accomplish if elected president of the BSC.
Blanton reinforced his support for the convention’s strategy to focus in on the lostness in the state.
“I feel very excited about the opportunities that we face in this state,” he said. “It’s staggering to think that of a population of 9.5 million people, it is estimated that 5.8 million people are unchurched.”
While international and North American missions are vital, Blanton said, North Carolina Baptists must not forget that “God has brought the world to our doorstep, and we must be able and willing to meet the challenges of that opportunity.”
Bordeaux said he’d like to focus more on church health and relationships between churches of different styles and sizes.
“I hear a lot of small church pastors say you don’t care about us,” he said. “Nobody calls upon us. Nobody knows who we are. They just want our money. And I think that sets a dangerous tone if they believe that.’’
He also expressed an interest in initiating a conversation or summit between both sides.
“I would hope that I’d have the opportunity to influence a conversation. … One of the privileges that the convention president does have is the opportunity to be heard.”
Both men challenged North Carolina Baptists to attend this year’s annual meeting Nov. 11-12 in Greensboro. See video or play below.

9/24/2013 12:51:10 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 2 comments

Women challenged to leave strong spiritual legacy

September 24 2013 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

At age 76, Esther Burroughs still remembers the time when as a child she stood outside her father’s study and heard him weeping. She peered in and saw him lying on the floor, weeping the Psalms back to God. She wanted what her father had – the Holy Spirit of God.
“The Spirit of God is a gift,” she said. “I didn’t know God would put that Spirit in me.”
As a child her father taught her to treasure God’s Word, something she wants to pass on to her own family.

BSC photo by Alexandra King
Laughter was just one of the common occurrences during Leaving a Legacy, a two-day conference held by Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. For more photos visit here.

“This is our instruction book,” she said. “The Bible is God-breathed. Leave the legacy of God’s Word in your children’s lives and grandchildren’s lives.” 
Burroughs, who directs Esther Burroughs Ministries ...Treasures of the Heart, was a featured speaker during the Sept. 6-7 women’s prayer and evangelism event at Ridgecrest Conference Center that was hosted by Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). Burroughs previously served the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) in missions and evangelism.

The annual conference focused on Psalm 78:4, which encourages believers to tell of God’s love and power from one generation to the next. Burroughs challenged women to not only teach their children the promises of God, but to claim His promises every day. She also reminded women to tell their testimony, or their story, and to tell it often.
“Part of leaving a spiritual legacy is telling your story. Your testimony is as fresh as what God said to you this morning when you opened His Word,” she said. “Tell your story to your sphere of influence.”
Merrie Johnson, BSC student evangelism consultant, shares her story often, as it is a story of God’s faithfulness in the midst of a tremendous trial. She spoke on leaving a legacy of hope and modeling a life based on hope and trust in God.
Johnson said she chose to leave a legacy of hope instead of bitterness and discouragement. Although she could have given up when her husband left her and their two children, Johnson decided to trust God and to allow Him to use her situation for good. “Joshua 1:9 became our life verse,” she said. “Over and over again God is telling us He will not leave us. The hope we have in Christ is not a vague feeling. The hope we have is complete assurance of certain victory through God.”

BSC photo by Alexandra King
Seeing her father cry when she was a little girl, Esther Burroughs said she wanted what he had – the Holy Spirit. She had seen him lying on the floor weeping the Psalms back to God. That legacy from her father has inspired Burroughs in pursuing a similar relationship with God. She was the main speaker Sept. 6-7 at a women’s event at Ridgecrest Conference Center. For more photos visit here.

Leaving a spiritual legacy is all about God working in and through His children, she said. Believers can let the hard times in life define them, or they can allow challenges to be part of their legacy. “I knew the only way to do that was to be better than the day before,” she said. “Was I going to be bitter or better? I knew that my purpose was to know God and to make Him known. Our family’s purpose was to live out our faith so that people would ask, ‘What is the difference?”
When Johnson struggled with finances as a single mom, she trusted God to provide. When she was lonely and didn’t know where to turn for help, she trusted God to provide.
“Every choice we make will lead us closer or farther away from God. It’s an everyday choice,” she said.
Embrace director Ashley Allen was also a featured conference speaker and highlighted the life of Abraham as an example of a godly legacy; one who heard from God and then acted in obedience to God’s instructions.
Although God commanded Abraham to move his family to an unfamiliar land, Abraham did not ask a lot of questions – he simply obeyed.
“A life of faith sometimes means living outside our comfort zones,” Allen said. “Abraham was willing to go outside his comfort zone to be obedient to God.”
Allen also pointed out that sometimes comfort zones go beyond a physical location, but no matter the situation, God’s Word promises believers can trust their Savior.
“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is faithful,” Allen said. “We get to respond to His faithfulness when we are knocked out of our comfort zones.”
Abraham willingly obeyed God even to the point of offering his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God. “Abraham trusted God with the outcome. He knew God had the details,” Allen said.
Abraham cared more about living a life of eternal purpose than he did earthly pleasures or rewards. His spiritual legacy continues to this day as believers are reminded to pursue righteousness in Christ and the eternal Kingdom.
“Our lives are not about us; they are about Him,” Allen said. “How are you living your life? What kind of legacy are you leaving?”

Related story

Family reorients life to invest in neighbors
9/24/2013 12:35:34 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Family reorients life to invest in neighbors

September 24 2013 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Other than a few names, Brandie Upshaw didn’t really know her Gulfport, Miss. neighbors.
So when her husband, Brian, accepted a job with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), they committed to doing things differently in their new home. As they prepared to move from Mississippi to North Carolina they prayed for God to move them into a neighborhood where He would use them to share the gospel.
Five years ago Upshaw had no idea the journey God had in store for her family, and she shared that journey during the Sept. 6-7 women’s prayer and evangelism conference hosted by Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries of the BSC. Her breakout session on learning to do evangelism from the home was one of several sessions offered during the conference at Ridgecrest. The conference also included plenary sessions and special prayer times.


BSC photo by Alexandra King
Brandie Upshaw shares how her family started a Bible study in their home after building relationships with their neighbors. Upshaw was part of “Leaving A Legacy,” a two-day conference sponsored by Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries.

Initially, trying to meet and build relationships with neighbors was not easy and at times proved frustrating. Yet, the Upshaws continued praying and seeking opportunities to get to know the people in their neighborhood.
“They saw that we were real people,” Upshaw said. “We were very intentional about reorienting our life to interact with our neighbors.
“Sometimes we don’t take the Great Commission literally,” she said. “Literally, God has placed us somewhere and He has a bunch of people around us who need to know Him.”
About two years after moving, one neighbor expressed interest in participating in a Bible study that the Upshaws wanted to start in the neighborhood. They began the study with Bible storying and that study led to a more in-depth Bible study with two adult couples. That study has led to other Bible studies and, ultimately, salvations.
“Give them the gospel, but also give them your life,” Upshaw said. “People have been hurt by other people and they blame it on God. Pray for love and relationships that point to your Savior; don’t make people your projects.”
During her breakout session Upshaw encouraged the women to be mindful that many people have not been taught basic Bible truths and stories, and so they must be patient and take time to offer explanations as needed.
For example, during a study on the book of Acts, one of the men in the Upshaw’s neighborhood Bible study had never read Acts and he had no idea that Saul would become the apostle Paul. His excitement upon learning how God changed this man’s life brought much joy to Upshaw.
“They are so hungry and they have such fresh eyes,” she said. “I have learned so much from my neighbors.”

Upshaw’s mother-in-law, Judy, also began a Bible study with her neighbors. She moved to North Carolina to be closer to family and within about six months knew many of her neighbors, most being senior adults.

Just by going on walks in her neighborhood she met many people, and as she did, she asked if they were interested in a Bible study. 
What started as one group of five or six ladies has turned into three groups, including a group in a nearby neighborhood. Upshaw shared during the breakout session that neither she nor her mother-in-law did anything out of the ordinary in their neighborhoods.
“We are just normal ladies,” she said. “It’s all God; it’s totally Him. It’s nothing I do that’s special. “In my former neighborhood I wasn’t really there,” she added. “It’s fun to see what God can do just by loving the people around you.”

Related story

Women challenged to leave strong spiritual legacy
9/24/2013 11:24:42 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Moody drops alcohol, tobacco ban for employees

September 24 2013 by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

The Chicago-based evangelical Moody Bible Institute has dropped its ban on alcohol and tobacco consumption by its 600-some faculty and staff, including for those who work in its radio and publishing arms.
The change in August reflected a desire to create a “high trust environment that emphasizes values, not rules,” said spokeswoman Christine Gorz. Employees must adhere to all “biblical absolutes,” Gorz said, but on issues where the Bible is not clear, Moody leaves it to employees’ conscience.
Employees may not drink on the job or with Moody students, who are not allowed to drink while in school.
Founded in 1886 by evangelist D.L. Moody, the Moody Bible Institute pays the cost of tuition (about $6,000 per semester before federal aid) for its 1,600 undergraduates who attend the main campus in downtown Chicago, many of whom go into ministry after graduation.
Students must abstain from tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and “sexual promiscuity” for at least one year before they enroll and during their time at Moody.
“In addition, students are to refrain from gambling, viewing obscene or pornographic literature, and patronizing pubs, bars, nightclubs, comedy clubs, and similar establishments,” the catalog says. “There will be no on- or off-campus dances sponsored or organized by Moody Bible Institute students or personnel.”
Last year, the school lifted a ban on long hair for men and nose stud earrings for women.
“Hair is to be well-groomed and should avoid extremes,” the guidelines say, and hair should be of natural color.
The change at Moody represents the latest shift in attitudes at different Christian institutions in recent years.
Ten years ago in suburban Chicago, Wheaton College lifted the ban on student dancing and now allows faculty, staff and graduate students to drink, though not on campus. Other schools, including Huntington University and Asbury Seminary, have changed their stances on employees and drinking in the last five years, said Jennifer Woodruff Tait, managing editor of Christian History Magazine.
“It’s part of a larger trend of wanting cultural acceptance,” said Tait, who noted that professors would go to academic conferences and be embarrassed when they couldn’t drink with friends. “A lot of people saw attitudes to alcohol as a witness. Many people are saying there are other ways to witness and this is a way to fit in.”
Colleges and seminaries are one barometer to gauge current evangelical thinking on social issues, said Larry Eskridge, associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals.
“Generally, permissive attitudes about alcohol within an evangelical denomination or school are looked upon by many conservative evangelicals as a hallmark of decline, perhaps even of apostasy,” he said.
“By contrast, more ‘progressive’ elements within the evangelical community these days are likely to look upon those institutions with strictures against alcohol use as legalistic and accuse them of ‘majoring on the minor.’”
Many, if not most, Christian colleges do not allow undergraduates to drink, but the policy for faculty and staff varies. The umbrella organization Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) does not keep statistics on where its member institutions stand. CCCU spokeswoman Pamela Jones says she knows of no CCCU-affiliated school that allows alcohol on campus.
Many late 19th-century evangelicals and fundamentalists were leaders of the temperance movement against alcohol. The evangelist Moody was among those who argued for voluntary abstinence rather than the prohibition enforced by law, according to the encyclopedia Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History.
Moody was particularly interested in reaching drunkards, according to the book Moody’s Talks on Temperance, with Anecdotes and Incidents. He stressed “the power of God’s grace to take away the appetite for liquor,” wrote James B. Dunn.
“I think for us, this is really about what scripture says,” Gorz said. “I don’t know if what D.L. Moody’s opinion might have been was really taken into consideration.”
Policies on Christian college campuses can be trickier than other religious institutions like denominations, as some students are under the 21-year-old drinking age limit.
Forty percent of evangelical leaders said they “socially drink alcohol,” according to a 2010 survey of evangelical leaders conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals. In a survey of mostly Southern Baptists, the SBC’s LifeWay Research found that 29 percent of Southern Baptist congregants drink alcohol, compared with 3 percent of Southern Baptist pastors.
Affirming a long-standing stance, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution in 2006 of “total opposition” to alcoholic beverages, urging that no one who drinks be elected to leadership in the denomination. Individual SBC churches determine their own position.
Like sex, alcohol has been a sensitive issue for younger evangelicals as many were told to abstain from both.
“You have a generation that’s eager to dive into the gray areas. Sex and alcohol aren’t on the same page, but we were told to not do both,” said Tyler Huckabee, a 2007 Moody graduate who’s now the managing editor of Relevant, a magazine for young evangelicals. “It backfired as some started doing (one or both).”
Young evangelicals still fall on different sides of the aisle, he said.
“It’s something that we need a developed philosophy and theology on,” Huckabee said. “It’s like, instead of just being told to abstain from sex, we need to develop something on what a healthy sense of sexuality is.”
Moody Bible Institute has campuses in Michigan and Spokane, Wash., and owns 36 radio stations across the country. Popular Moody Publishers authors include Gary Chapman, Jerry B. Jenkins and Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
9/24/2013 11:13:27 AM by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

25-year sentence given FRC shooter

September 24 2013 by Baptist Press, WORLD News Service

WASHINGTON – The man who planned mass shootings at several conservative organizations in the nation’s capital has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for the thwarted plot.

In August 2012, Floyd Corkins II walked into the lobby of the Family Research Council (FRC) with a backpack full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, a gun and 100 rounds of ammunition. FRC security guard Leo Johnson tackled and subdued Corkins, but not before the attacker fired three shots, hitting the guard in the arm.

Prosecutors asked Judge Richard W. Roberts of the U.S. District Court in Washington for a 45-year sentence for Corkins for his guilty pleas for assault with intent to kill while armed, committing an act of terrorism while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm. His lawyers said he was under treatment for mental illness at the time and didn’t deserve to serve more than 11-and-a-half years.

Johnson, in a letter to the court, detailed the extent of his injuries and said he often experiences feelings of anger and frustration when he thinks about what he has endured, and continues to endure, “both physically and psychologically as a result of this crime.” He asked for Corkins, 28, to receive the maximum sentence.

Corkins told authorities he planned to shoot as many people as possible and smear the chicken sandwiches in their faces as a political statement. Corkins, a volunteer for The DC Center for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Community, was angry over the position conservatives, including Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, had taken on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

In court documents filed in April, government prosecutors said they based their sentencing recommendation on Corkins’ intent. Without Johnson’s intervention, the attacker “would have almost certainly succeeded in committing a massacre of epic portions,” the filing said.

In a statement before the court, FRC President Tony Perkins said he did not seek vengeance but justice. “Mr. Corkins has so far shown no remorse,” Perkins said. “The facts show he planned his attack in great detail and hoped for massive casualties. ... As he admits, this crime was premeditated and had been on his mind for years before he decided to act on his plan.”

During the sentencing hearing, Corkins did apologize to his actual and intended victims: “I realize resorting to violence to achieve a political end is never OK,” he said, adding that he still disagrees with the FRC.

Perkins also laid blame on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has applied a “hate group” label to the FRC and other organizations that support traditional marriage. “[Corkins’] goal and that of SPLC is to silence those with whom they disagree,” Perkins said. “In a civil society, shutting down debate is not how reasonable people and organizations operate. Intimidating and bullying others shreds the ‘ordered liberty’ of which our founders wrote and for which they advocated, and places all of us in jeopardy of losing our sacred rights as militant extremists claim the public square exclusively for themselves.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – WORLD News Service, based in Asheville, N.C., is affiliated with WORLD Magazine. Used by permission.)
9/24/2013 10:59:42 AM by Baptist Press, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

Recorder managing editor accepts Baptist Press position

September 23 2013 by BR staff

Shawn Hendricks, managing editor of the Biblical Recorder, has accepted the position of managing editor for Baptist Press (BP) in Nashville, Tenn.
A Missouri native, Hendricks came to the Recorder in October 2011 after nearly 10 years as a writer, and later a senior writer, for the International Mission Board.
While at IMB, Hendricks covered Southern Baptist international mission work around the globe. He traveled to more than 20 countries and led media teams on overseas assignments.
A graduate of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., Hendricks began his journalism career as a reporter for the State Gazette, a daily newspaper in Dyersburg, Tenn. He’s also worked as a public relations writer for Hannibal-LaGrange College (now Hannibal-LaGrange University) in Hannibal, Mo. and as a news and feature writer for Word&Way, the Baptist paper in Jefferson City.
“I’m excited about this new opportunity to serve as managing editor of Baptist Press,” Hendricks said. “It will be a privilege to continue reporting on missions, ministry and other important events throughout this country and around the globe.”
“I will definitely miss North Carolina and the Biblical Recorder,” he added. “During my time here, I have enjoyed helping to report on God’s work in this great state and beyond. I also have had the privilege of working alongside a talented, hardworking and dedicated team. They have been a blessing.”
BR Editor Allan Blume said, “Shawn has been a valuable part of the Biblical Recorder’s team. He is a gifted journalist and a hard-working manager. While I am very sad that he is leaving us, I recognize the valuable contribution his skills will bring to the larger Southern Baptist family in his new role. We will miss Shawn and his family very much.”
Hendricks will begin at Baptist Press on Oct. 28. He and his wife Stephanie have a 5-year-old daughter Laura. He replaces Michael Foust, who in July became editor of Off The Grid News, a Christian-owned news website based out of Illinois. Foust was at Baptist Press for 10 years, first as assistant editor and then as associate editor. 
9/23/2013 7:22:39 PM by BR staff | with 1 comments

Office of GCP celebrates anniversary, relationships

September 23 2013 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Three years ago New York City, Boston and Toronto were no places for a Southerner. Moldova was a country of little significance, and unreached people groups were merely statistics.
Now, these three North American cities are viewed more as gateways to reach the nations with the gospel. Moldova is home to faithful leaders who continue ministry in a country that once persecuted them. Unreached people groups now have names, faces and individuals who need Jesus.
Now, more North Carolina Baptists are engaging in long-term partnerships in some of the most strategic and unreached areas of the nation and world.
This year marks the three-year anniversary of the Office of Great Commission Partnerships (GCP) which coordinates partnerships of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in New York City, Boston, Toronto and the Eastern European country of Moldova. Since GCP began, more North Carolina Baptist churches have started the process of developing a missions strategy that connects them locally and globally for effective, long-term impact ministry.

“We often send our people everywhere instead of asking the Father to guide us to that place or people group where the gospel has never been,” said Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions development. “We want to help North Carolina Baptists develop a strategy that will reach people in their community, North America and the world.”

BSC file photo 
“We want to help North Carolina Baptists develop a strategy that will reach people in their community, North America and the world,” said Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions development for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Register was part of a 2010 vision trip to New York.

Register applauded the leadership of Michael Sowers, senior consultant in the Office of Great Commission Partnerships.
“I am amazed that in three short years we have fully developed partnerships in New York City, Toronto, Boston and Moldova, and we have taken the initial steps to launch a partnership through the International Mission Board in Southeast Asia,” Register said. “That’s a testimony to the desire of North Carolina Baptists to bring gospel light to a spiritually dark world.”

Strategic cities

All along the 7-train route from Times Square to Flushing, Queens, is evidence of North Carolina Baptist partnership. Queens is home to some of the most diverse neighborhoods in all of New York, and North Carolina Baptists are partnering with local church planters in those strategic areas.
In addition to partnering with a Hispanic church plant on Long Island, First Baptist Church in Summerfield is partnering with planter Boto Joseph in Jackson Heights, an area home to more than 130 languages.
The Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA) anticipates starting a ministry center in Jackson Heights, a “key community that continues to be the arrival point for almost all the South Asians in the metropolitan region,” said George Russ, MNYBA executive director.
Russ expressed gratitude to North Carolina Baptists for their commitment to long-term partnerships, especially in an association where 70 percent of churches are non-English speaking and 70 percent do not own a building.
“It’s really about relationships; it’s not just a project,” Russ said. “You get to meet people. There’s a blending of heart and soul.”
Summerfield senior pastor Richard Odom values the relational aspect of partnership missions.
“A lack of connections and relationship hinders excitement,” he said. “As the church develops relationships with the planters, and as people go year after year, there’s a desire to go back.” 
Ted Hawkins and Salem Baptist Church in Sneads Ferry are gearing up for a five-year partnership with a church in Fall River, about one hour south of Boston.
“I think the congregation was really shocked when I told them how lost New England is, especially since this is where our Christian foundations started,” said Hawkins, the church missions coordinator.
About 98 percent of Boston’s 2.7 million population is unchurched, and only one Southern Baptist Convention church exists for every 13,352 people. God is at work in this spiritually dark city, said Hope Fellowship Church planter and pastor Curtis Cook. More and more churches are on the verge of multiplying and planting other churches. He asked North Carolina Baptists to specifically pray for God to send more planters to Boston’s suburbs.
Like Russ, Cook is thankful for the BSC partnership.  
“They have brought more churches and interested partners than any state convention; North Carolina has been a tremendous partner,” said Cook, who also serves as city coordinator for the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send Boston initiative.
The Office of Great Commission Partnerships has also helped connect North Carolina Baptists with church planters in the Greater Toronto Area, which is less than five percent evangelical and home to more than 6.5 million people.
“North Carolina Baptists have been faithful prayer warriors for our city,” said Andrew Lamme, Toronto lead church planting catalyst for NAMB.
“The mission teams are coming with servant hearts and attitudes of doing whatever needs to be done. They have really gone outside their comfort zone.”
Just this year, 22 North Carolina Baptist churches partnered with church planters throughout the Greater Toronto Area. 

Ends of the earth

Through its partnership with the Baptist Union of Moldova, the Office of Great Commission Partnerships is helping North Carolina Baptists engage lostness in a country that is 96 percent non-evangelical and 73 percent Eastern Orthodox. 
Moldova is strategic in that it is uniquely positioned to impact the rest of the world with the gospel. For example, a Bible college in Moldova is training students from countries that are resistant to the gospel. These students will take the gospel back home once their studies are complete. Aaron Wallace, pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, participated in the GCP vision tour last year to Moldova. He now is leading his congregation to partner with a church planter in northern Moldova.
“The Moldovans can teach us a lot about cooperation,” Wallace said. “It’s about truly investing in the Kingdom together. They truly see the Kingdom as bigger than any one church. A future work is being built up in Moldova; a lasting work.”
As GCP also seeks to help North Carolina Baptists engage in Southeast Asia, the office has sponsored several equipping events in partnership with the International Mission Board, including the Impact Your World conference and Embrace Southeast Asian Peoples USA Training. GCP also sponsored a safety and security training.

The world is here

North Carolina’s growing diversity has challenged GCP to consider not only strategies for partnering throughout North America and the world, but also across the state. Through a pilot project known as NCMapID, GCP is working with Metrolina and Piedmont associations to identify each of the unique people groups living in the Charlotte and Greensboro metropolitan areas.
The goal is to mobilize North Carolina Baptists to partner with the Metrolina and Piedmont associations to help identify, pray for and engage the people groups, and to then expand the project by creating an effective model that can be used in the six other North Carolina metropolitan areas.
GCP is also committed to involving young leaders in North Carolina in missions. Through a three-year initiative known as Next Generation Missional Journey, high school and college students are learning from pastors, missionaries and missions strategists, and participating in hands-on missions experiences.
From equipping the next generation of mission leaders to sharing the gospel with people who have never heard, Register said he is encouraged by the support and enthusiasm of churches across the state. “The response of North Carolina Baptists to the Office of Great Commission Partnerships has been overwhelming,” he said. “Through such engagement, North Carolina Baptists are expanding God’s Kingdom.”
For more information about Great Commission Partnerships contact Chuck Register at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5532, or Contact Michael Sowers at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5654, or

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The church: Destination or missions launch pad?
9/23/2013 7:05:23 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

The church: Destination or missions launch pad?

September 23 2013 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

John Ewart did not grow up in church and had no intention of ever attending church. He heard the gospel through a football teammate.
“I was saved in a locker room because a guy who loved Jesus more than football shared the gospel,” Ewart said.
Ewart shared with those gathered at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh for the Sept. 13-14 Great Commission Church Conference that the “ya’ll come” approach to church would not have worked for him – someone had to bring the gospel to him.
“We can’t just stay inside the church walls and expect people to find us,” he said. “You have to go, even to people who are different from you.”
Ewart, associate vice president of project development and missions professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, challenged conference participants to embrace the mission of God. 
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships sponsored the conference in an effort to help provide church leaders with a basic, yet workable framework for a local church mission strategy.

SEBTS photo
John Ewart, associate vice president of project development and missions professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, challenged recent conference participants to embrace the mission of God.

In order to establish a mission strategy the local church must understand that the mission of God is to bring Himself glory and to redeem a lost world unto Himself. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, people are lost, dying and going to hell. 
“Do we really embrace this concept?” Ewart said. “When was the last time lostness had a gut-wrenching impact on you and your church? If we truly appreciated and loved our redeeming God on mission, we would tell others about Him and make disciples.”
Churches fail to focus on God’s mission when individual priorities and preferences become the goal. 
“We have to be focused on what God wants for my church, not what I want for my church,” Ewart said. “We often confuse ownership and stewardship. God never gave us ownership; we’re just stewards.”
Ewart reminded leaders that the Great Commission commands believers to take the gospel to all people, and that requires going to cultures unlike our own. “Our ministry is not to change culture, but to present the Word of God in ways that is understood in the culture,” he said.
“The engineer and the passengers don’t get to decide where the train tracks are going. Our job is to build the train. Every train will look different. Contextually, the train will be determined by who you are. But the mission, the train tracks, never changes.”
To effectively present the gospel, and to do so in different cultures, a church must pursue an intentional relationship with God and His people, and with the world and its people.
“Being missional is simply an overflow of our relationship with God,” Ewart said. “Sometimes our relationship with the world just becomes a work of righteousness, and the motivation will dry out unless you embrace the mission.”
Ewart reminded leaders that Great Commission fulfillment is not only about making converts; it’s about making disciples. Disciples are those who experience life transformation and then make more disciples.

Missions shape the mission

David Horner, who founded Providence Baptist Church in 1978 and has served as senior pastor ever since, was also a featured conference speaker. He spoke about how missions must help shape a church’s mission.
With less than 13 percent of Southern Baptist Convention churches sending out even one missionary, churches must be willing to equip and to then let go.
“Your church will be viewed as a destination or a launch pad,” he said. “We’ve got to be willing to let go – to release people to go. That hurts your bottom line, unless your bottom line is Kingdom focus. God will let a lot of people pass through your church if you don’t own them as your members.”
Churches become willing to release people to the mission field when members embrace the biblical teaching of loving Jesus above all else. 
“We want to cultivate a deep, growing love for Christ so that our desires align with His. We’ve got to be so in love with Jesus that this matters more than anything else,” Horner said. “The motive for missions comes out of our passion for Christ. A sense of guilt will only motivate short term.”
Prayer always precedes and accompanies a great movement of God, and that includes a missions movement. “What is it you really long for? That’s what you pray about,” Horner said.
Each year Providence sends out hundreds of people on short-term mission trips, and throughout the years has sent out about 125 individuals to serve long-term in an international missions context. While short-term missions help provide a “boots on the ground” experience, long-term partnerships are crucial.
“We want to go in deep for long periods of time,” Horner said.
For a number of years Providence has committed to sending teams, both short and long term, to work among unreached people in Central Asia. 
An effective missions strategy must be part of a biblical, holistic strategy for church ministry.
“Missions fits into a principle-based approach to ministry so that we pursue the whole counsel of God,”
Horner said. “Missions is part of a fully developed, mature response to the claims of Christ. If missions becomes isolated or insulated, we’re in trouble.”
Horner shared the following “best practices” to help build a missions culture:
  • Designate leadership responsible for missions
  • Maintain a high value on partnering with indigenous works
  • Maintain consistent contact with supported missionaries
  • Utilize an assessment process to send out those best suited and called
  • Highlight missions at an annual conference to raise visibility and
  • priority of missions
  • Adopt a people group or focus on a particular nation or region
  • Emphasize missions from the pulpit and platform
To learn more about principle-based ministry and missions, read Horner’s When Missions Shape the Mission and Firmly Rooted, Faithfully Growing: Principle-based Ministry in the Church. More information about creating a church mission strategy is available through the Office of Great Commission Partnerships.

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Office of GCP celebrates anniversary, relationships
9/23/2013 6:52:41 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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